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Charter sector says about 50,000 applicants turned away

Nearly 50,000 city students were turned away from charter schools this year, a very slight dip from last year’s total, according to new enrollment estimates from the New York City Charter School Center.

According to the Center, 70,700 prospective students applied for 21,000 seats filled this month in lotteries—a ratio of 3.36 applicants per seat.

Numbers released earlier this month by some charter networks show even higher demand. Success Academy said it received more than 17 applicants for every one of its seat in the Bronx, and nearly five applicants per seat across the network. The four-school Explore network said it received six applications per available seat.

“It is good news for the work that charter schools are doing, especially in a time when there’s been debate about whether charter schools are getting too big,” the Charter Center’s Research and Policy Director Michael Regnier said.

The charter school waiting list numbers are complicated to compile, given that many applicants apply to more than one school. But the numbers are central to the charter sector’s assertion that demand for charter school options is high.

For the first time, the Charter Center’s data  also show that the majority of applicants were looking for seats in schools located outside of the city’s “big three” neighborhoods—Harlem, the south Bronx, and central Brooklyn—where charter schools have traditionally been concentrated. Together, schools in those neighborhoods accounted for about 49 percent of applicants.

“We’re now seeing new charter schools go into a variety of neighborhoods. Some of those are on the outskirts of the ‘big three,’ and others are in Queens, in Bensonhurst, in parts of Manhattan where there hadn’t been charters before,” Regnier said.